Arlington, VA

(Updated at 10:25 p.m.) In a small press conference, local officials explained that the second day of drive-in coronavirus testing went well but efforts are hamstrung by a lack of coronavirus tests.

“We’ve been able to process 63 patients,” said Melody Dickerson, Virginia Hospital Center’s Chief Nursing Officer. “We are training more laboratory staff to help with the process. The limiting resource is the testing supplies. That is a finite resource and we continue to monitor that closely.”

Dickerson said the facility, on county-owned property across from Washington-Liberty High School, could test 12 people per hour, but the number of available tests limited them to 63 patients.

Aaron Miller, Director of Arlington’s Department of Public Safety Communications and Emergency Management, said the efficiency of Arlington’s operation can and should be applied elsewhere.

“We’ve taken the successful model you’ve seen here and the plans we’ve worked on and provided that with our regional partners as a templated guidance,” Miller said. “We’ve encouraged not only regional partners but state partners to use this as an example of what can be accomplished with these public-private partnerships.”

Arlington is supporting the requests from other state and regional leaders to get more testing from the federal government, he added.

Following the announcement that Arlington has set up a coronavirus hotline — 703-228-7999 — for resident questions, Miller requested that Arlingtonians save 911 calls for emergencies.

“We saw a spike in calls to 911 asking about testing,” Miller said. “Please, if you do not have an emergency, please don’t call 911.”

Also Thursday, Arlington County released a video showing the new protective gear firefighters might be wearing on medical calls to protect them from disease.

“Please, do not be alarmed,” the video said. “This does not mean that the patient we are attending to is sick with the coronavirus.”

The extra precautions are necessary to keep first responders healthy at a time when there is evidence of “community transmission” in Northern Virginia.

More from Arlington County:

As of March 19, 2020, public health officials have noted evidence of community transmission of the COVID-19 coronavirus in parts of Northern Virginia.

Local governments in Northern Virginia have already taken a number of actions to promote social distancing and protect those at increased risk for severe illness. Individuals are urged to:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with those are sick
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow and wash your hands afterwards
  • Avoid crowded areas and non‐essential travel if you are over age 65 or have a chronic medical condition
  • Follow local government social distancing guidance.
  • Infectious diseases do not respect boundaries. Each individual is a critical part of slowing the spread of COVID-19, in addition to government action at the local, state and federal levels.

For more information about the COVID-19 coronavirus and how you can help protect yourself and those around you, visit arlingtonva.us/Coronavirus.

Photo via Jay Westcott

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